- St Lythans burial chamber
Name = St Lythans burial chamber
Welsh: "siambr gladdu Lythian Sant"
Photo = Siambr Gladdu Lythian Sant.jpg
Dolmencite web |url= http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMZWC|publisher= Groundspeak Inc. |title= "St Lythans Burial Chamber" Waymark|accessdate=2008-08-03]
Wales( _cy. Cymru)
Vale of Glamorgan
( _cy. Bro Morgannwg)
Nearest Town = Barry ( _cy. Y Barri)
Nearest Village =
Wenvoe( _cy. Gwenfô)
Grid_ref_UK = ST101723
Coor = coord|51.44253|N|3.29491|W|type:landmark|display=inline,title
Condition = 3
Access = 5
References = Megalithic Portal|1470
The St Lythans burial chamber (Welsh: "siambr gladdu Lythian Sant") is a single stone
megalithic dolmen, built around 6,000 BP ( before present) as part of a chambered long barrow, during the late Neolithicperiod, in what is now known as the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.
St Lythans is around one mile (1.6 km) south of Tinkinswood burial chamber, a more extensive
cromlechthat it may once have resembled, constructed during the same period.
The site is on pasture land, but pedestrian access is allowed and is free, with roadside parking available for 2–3 cars about convert|50|yd|m from the site.
The dolmen, which has never been fully excavated,cite web|title=St Lythans Chambered Long Cairn, Maesyfelin; Gwal-y-Filiast|url=http://www.coflein.gov.uk/pls/portal/coflein.w_details?inumlink=6059982|accessdate=2008-08-08|publisher=Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales|date=2007-07-26|work=The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales website] is maintained by
Cadw( _en. to keep),cite web|title=About Cadw|url=http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=3&lang=en|accessdate=2008-08-11|publisher=Cadw, a division of the Welsh Assembly Government|year=2008|work=Cadw website] the Welsh Historic Environment Agency.cite web|title=Places to visit: St Lythans Burial Chamber|url=http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=6&PlaceID=123|accessdate=2008-08-07|publisher=Cadw, a division of the Welsh Assembly Government|year=2008|work=Cadw website]
This chamber tomb is a
dolmen, the most common form of megalithic structure in Europe. It stands at the eastern end of a flat topped, convert|27|m|ft long, convert|11|m|ft wide earthen mound, forming part of a chambered long barrow. It is one of the Severn-Cotswold type, and consists of a cove of three upright stones ( orthostats), supporting a large, flat, capstone. All the stones are mudstone, which, as with those used at Tinkinswood, were probably available locally. The capstone, which slopes downwards from south east to north west (the left side of the entrance towards the back, right), measures four metres (13 ft) long, three metres (9.8 ft) wide, and convert|0.7|m|ft thick.cite web|title=St Lythans — Chambered Tomb in Wales in South Glamorgan|url=http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=1470|accessdate=2008-08-03|publisher=Andy Burnham|date=2004-18-04|work=The Megalithic Portal] The insides of the two facing, rectangular, uprights have been smoothed off and there is a port-hole at the top of the triangular, rear stone, similar to some other dolmens, such as at Trethevy Quoit, in Cornwall. The burial chamber has a minimum internal height of convert|1.8|m|ft and is in an east/west allignment, with the entrance facing east. As with most cromlechs, it is likely that originally, the burial chamber would have had a forecourt immediately outside the entrance to the chamber and the chamber would have been covered by a mound of earth and smaller stones. This has either been eroded, or removed, over time, leaving only a much lower barrow behind the current structure. However, as the chamber is unusually tall, it is possible that the capstone was never fully covered.cite web|title=St Lythans chambered tomb|url=http://www.stonepages.com/wales/stlythans.html|accessdate=2008-08-03|publisher=Paola Arosio and Diego Meozzi|year=1996–2003|work=Stone Pages website]
From the end of the last
ice age(between 10,000 and 12,000 BP), mesolithic hunter-gatherersfrom Central Europebegan to migrate to Great Britain. They would have been able to walk between Continental Europeand Great Britain on dry land, prior to the post glacial rise in sea level, up until between 6,000 and 7,000 BP.cite web|title=Overview: From Neolithic to Bronze Age, 8000–800 BC (Page 1 of 6)|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/british_prehistory/overview_british_prehistory_01.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=BBC|date=2006-09-05|work=BBC History website] As the area was heavily wooded and movement would have been restricted, it is likely that people also came to what was to become known as Walesby boat from the Iberian Peninsula.cite web|title=Genes link Celts to Basques|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1256894.stm|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=BBC|date=2001-04-03|work=BBC News website] These neolithiccolonists integrated with the indigenous people, who gradually changed from being hunter-gatherers to settled farmers. They cleared the forests to establish pasture and to cultivate the land. They built the long barrowat St Lythans around 6,000 BP, about 1,500 years before either Stonehengeor The Egyptian Great Pyramid of Gizawas completed.cite web|title=Your guide to Stonehenge, the World's Favourite Megalithic Stone Circle|url=http://www.stonehenge.co.uk/history.htm|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=Longplayer SRS Ltd (trading as www.stonehenge.co.uk)|year=2008|work=Stonehenge.co.uk website] There are over 150 other cromlechs all over Wales, such as Pentre Ifanin Pembrokeshire( _cy. Sir Benfro) and Bryn Celli Ddu, on Anglesey( _cy. " "Ynys" " Môn), of the same period.
As well as places to house and to honour their dead, these cromlechs may have been communal and ceremonial sites where, according to Dr Francis Pryor, people would meet "to socialise, to meet new partners, to acquire fresh livestock and to exchange ceremonial gifts".cite web|title=Overview: From Neolithic to Bronze Age, 8000–800 BC (Page 3 of 6)|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/british_prehistory/overview_british_prehistory_03.shtml|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=BBC|date=2006-09-05|work=BBC History website] The corpses of the dead were probably left exposed, before the bones were moved into the burial chamber.
In common with the people living all over
Great Britain, over the following centuries the people living around what is now known as St Lythans assimilated new imigrants and exchanged ideas of the Bronze Ageand Iron AgeCeltic cultures. Together with the approximate areas now known as Brecknockshire, Monmouthshire and the rest of Glamorgan, St Lythans was settled by a Celtic British tribe called the Silures. Although the Roman occupation left no physical impression on St Lythans, its people embraced the Roman religion of Christianityand dedicated a church to St Bleddian, who had been sent to Britain to stamp out the Pelagian Heresy.cite web|title=Pelagian Heresy|author=Michael MacKay|url=http://www.clanmorgan.net/PELAGIANHERESY.htm|accessdate=2008-08-08|publisher=The Morgan Clan|date=1998-07-26|work=The Morgan Clan website] The current Church of St Bleddian, in St Lythans, a listed grade II* building,cite web|title=Listed Buildings in the Vale of Glamorgan|url=http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/files/Living/Planning/Policy/Listed_Buildings/Listed_Buildings_10_06.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-04|format=pdf|publisher=Vale of Glamorgan Council|date=2006-09-26|work=Vale of Glamorgan Council Planning website] known locally as St Lythan's Church, was built about ⅔ mile (about 1 km) to the east of this site and has an ancient yew tree in the churchyard.
Recent local history
Manorof Worlton, which included St Lythans, was given to Bishop Oudoceous ( _cy. Euddogwy)cite web|title=St. Euddogwy alias Odouceus|url=http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/euddogwy.html|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=Nash Ford Publishing|year=2006|work=David Nash Ford's Early British Kingdoms website] of Llandafby King Judhail ( _cy. Ithael)cite web|title=Celtic Twilight: The Annals of Wales|url=http://www.celtic-twilight.com/camelot/annales_cambriae/index.htm|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=Gordd Cymru|year=2000|work=Celtic Twilight—Legends of Camelot website] in 640 CE. In the 16th century, the manor was acquired by the Button family, who built the first house about convert|500|yd|km north west of the tumulus. The Manor's name was changed to Dyffryn St Nicholas and the house rebuilt in the 18th century, when the estate was purchased by Thomas Pryce. Commenting on St Lythans in his 'A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales', London, 1811, Nicholas Carlisle, says "The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, was 72. It is 6m. W. S.W. from Caerdiff (sic)." and notes that "Here is a Druidical Altar."cite web|title=GENUKI: St. Lythans|url=http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA/StLythans/|accessdate=2008-08-03|publisher=GENUKI|date=2007-07-17|work=GENUKI website] (Note the spelling of Cardiff, which corresponds closely to the current local Cardiff pronuciation.) By 1831 the population had grown by over 50 % ("Lythan's, St. (St. Lythian), a parish in the hundred of Dinas-Powis, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 6 miles (W. S. W.) from Cardiff, containing 103 inhabitants.") and Dyffryn House was being used as "a school for all the poor children of this parish". By now, the dolmen had been correctly identified: "There is a cromlech on St. Lythan's common." (From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' by Samuel Lewis, 1833). Census records show that St Lythans' population fluctuated between 81 (1881) and 136 (1861) over the rest of the 19th century. In 1939, the Dyffryn Estate was leased to the Glamorgan County Council for 999 years.cite web|title=History of the Dyffryn Estate: History of the House and Gardens|url=http://www.val.t.caple.care4free.net/Dyffryn/Page2/index.html|accessdate=2008-08-05|publisher=The Friends of Dyffryn Gardens|year=2001|work=Dyffryn Gardens website]
St Lythans Burial Chamber is also known as "Gwâl y Filiast" ( _en. The Greyhound Bitch's Kennel) — the site had been used as an animal shelter in the early 19th century — and "Maes y Felin" ( _en. The Mill Field), apparently from the legend that, each
Midsummer's Eve, the capstone spins around three times and all the stones go to the nearby river to bathe.cite web|title=St Lythans chambered long barrow|url=http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/stlythans.htm|accessdate=2008-08-08|publisher=Chris Collyer|date=2008|work=Stone Circles website] The cromlechstands in a field known as the "Accursed Field", so called due to its supposed infertility. However, Julian Cope(born about convert|25|mi|km to the north, in Deri, Bargoed) has suggested the name may have derived from "Field O'Koeur".
Analysis of contempory local sites
Few human remains survive from this period, the early Neolithic (c 6400 BP–5300 BP). Although, they are comparatively well preserved in the
Black Mountains, Gowerand the Vale of Glamorgan, where up to 50 individuals, of all ages, have been interred — men, women and children — in each cromlech. Minor excavation was carried out at St Lythans by William Collings Lukisin 1875. However his notes are regarded as "poorly-recorded". A report noted in 1976 CE that "Human remains and coarse pottery were found in 1875 in the debris thrown out from the interior, which partly fills the hollow of the original forecourt in the E (sic) end of the mound." Some surface finds from the cromlech are held in the National Museum Wales, Cardiff. They are a fine leaf-shaped flint arrowhead, a fragment of polished stone axe and several flight flakes. Conservation work was carried out on the eroded barrow in 1992–3 CE, when soil and turfs were replaced to cover the exposed areas.The St Lythans site has not yet been fully excavated. However, results from excavations of other sites are worth noting:
Musculoskelatal analysis of the human remains found at Parc-le-Breos, Gower, has shown significant gender lifestyle variation. Male muscular development is greater — possibly from hunting, or herding. In contrast, no such variation was noticable in the remains found during the
excavationfrom the nearby Tinkinswood burial chamber. [History of Wales, 25,000 BC AD 2000, Prys Morgan (Ed), 2001, Tempus, ISBN 0 7524 1983 8, p 20]
Remains from seven neolithic humans have been excavated from a cave at Goldsland Wood,
Wenvoe, near the cromlech at St Lythans, together with pottery and flint blades dating from between 5,000 to 5,600 BP. Although there is no evidence to show that the bones relate to the site, it is thought that the corpses had been placed there until they had decomposed. The skeletons would then have been removed to sites such as the St Lythans Burial Chamber,cite web|title=Students Find 5,000 Year Old Human Remains|url=http://www.uclan.ac.uk/news/2005/web105.htm|accessdate=2008-08-07|publisher=University of Central Lancashire|date=2005-08-25|work=University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) website] or the Tinkinswood Burial Chamber. This appears to be the first, and only, site found in Britain, where corpses have been left to rot, prior to placement in communal tombs. Most of the remains recovered were small pieces of jaw, fingers or toes.cite web|title=Excavations at Goldsland Wood Caves, Cardiff|author=Dr Richard Peterson (UCLAN)|url=http://www.lancsarchsoc.org.uk/programmelisting0809.htm|accessdate=2008-08-07|publisher=Lancashire Archaeological Society|date=2008-03-14|work=Lancashire Archaeological Society website] The Tinkinswood site contained human remains and pottery dating to the early Bronze Age, showing that such sites were used over many generations.
St Lythans ( _cy. Llwyneliddon) is a small rural settlement in the
Vale of Glamorgan( _cy. Bro Morgannwg), midway between the villages of Wenvoe( _cy. Gwenfô) and St Nicholas ( _cy. Sain Nicolas), about four miles (6.4 km) west, south west of Cardiff( _cy. Caerdydd). The site lies about convert|500|yd|m south east of Dyffryn House ( _cy. Ty Dyffryn), the manor house set in Dyffryn Gardens( _cy. Gerddi Dyffryn), the estate to which the St Lythans burial chamber once belonged. The area is little changed from the mid 19th century, when Llowe's 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849) said: "There is a cromlech on a farm belonging to the Dyfryn (sic) estate; it is near the road-side, about half a mile west of the church, on the approach to Dyfryn (sic) village".cite web|title=Llowes — Lythan's, St.', A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1849), pp. 172–179|author=Samuel Lewis|url=http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47865|accessdate=2008-08-03|publisher=University of London & History of Parliament Trust|work=British History Online website] The cromlech stands in a field, Maesyfelin ( _en. The Mill Field), often shared by a herd of cows, to the south of St Lythans Road. Roadside parking is available, for 2—3 cars, about convert|50|yd|m from the site, which is maintained by Cadw( _en. to keep),cite web|title=About Cadw|url=http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=3&lang=en|accessdate=2008-08-11|publisher=Cadw, a division of the Welsh Assembly Government|year=2008|work=Cadw website] the Welsh Historic Environment Agency.cite web|title=Places to visit: St Lythans Burial Chamber|url=http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=6&PlaceID=123|accessdate=2008-08-07|publisher=Cadw, a division of the Welsh Assembly Government|year=2008|work=Cadw website] Access to the field, which slopes gently downwards towards the north west, is permitted, and is free, via a kissing gate. There is no wheelchair access, although there is an uninterrupted view of the site from the gate, about convert|50|yd|m away.
Chambered long barrow
Cove (standing stones)
Vale of Glamorgan
List of Cadw (Welsh Heritage) Properties
Douglas Bailey, "Prehistoric Figurines: Representation and Corporeality in the Neolithic." (Routledge Publishers, 2005) ISBN 0-415-33152-8.
Peter Bellwood, "First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies." (Blackwell Publishers, 2004) ISBN 0-631-20566-7
Timothy Darvill, "Long Barrows of the Cotswolds and surrounding areas" (Publisher: Tempus Publishing, 2004) ISBN 0-7524-2907-8
Prys Morgan(Ed), "History of Wales 25,000 B.C. A.D. 2000" (Publisher: Tempus Publishing, 2001) ISBN 0-7524-1983-8
Frances Lynch, "Megalithic Tombs and Long Barrows in Britain" (Publisher: Shire Publications Ltd, 1997) ISBN 0-7478-0341-2
A Caseldine, "Environmental Archaeology in Wales" (Publisher: Oxford, 1990)
Paul Ashbee, "The Earthen Long Barrow in Britain: An Introduction to the Study of the Funerary Practice and Culture of the Neolithic People of the Third Millennium B.C." (Publisher: Geo Books, 1984) ISBN 0-8609-4170-1
Hodder I"Burials, houses, women and men in the European Neolithic", D Miller and C Tilley (eds), "Architecture and Order" (Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1984)
Mark Nathan Cohen, "The Food Crisis in Prehistory: Overpopulation and the Origins of Agriculture." (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1977) ISBN 0-300-02016-3.
* [http://www.britainexpress.com/History/The_Neolithic_Era.htm www.britainexpress.com]
* [http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=6&PlaceID=123 www.cadw.wales.gov.uk]
* [http://www.coflein.gov.uk/pls/portal/coflein.w_details?inumlink=6059982 www.coflein.gov.uk]
* [http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMZWC www.waymarking.com]
* [http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=1470 www.megalithic.co.uk]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/british_prehistory/overview_british_prehistory_01.shtml www.bbc.co.uk/history]
* [http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA/StLythans/ www.genuki.org.uk]
* [http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/stlythans.htm www.stone-circles.org.uk]
* [http://www.stonepages.com/wales/stlythans.html www.stonepages.com]
* [http://www.uclan.ac.uk/facs/science/archaeology/research_projGoldslandCaves.html www.uclan.ac.uk]
* [http://www.gtj.org.uk/en/small/item/GTJ02909/ www.gtj.org.uk Gathering the Jewels — Welsh Heritage and Culture]
* [http://www.pretanicworld.com/Monuments.html www.pretanicworld.com]
* [http://www.barrowdiggers.50g.com The Victorian Barrow Diggers of Wales]
* [http://www.visitwales.com VisitWales.com] The official international guide to places to stay and things to do in Wales.
* [http://www.visitwales.co.uk/ VisitWales.co.uk] The official UK guide to places to stay and things to do in Wales.
* [http://www.walesworldnation.com Wales — World Nation] www.walesworldnation.com
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